Album Review: Michael Jackson – “Thriller”

I first heard Michael Jackson’s Thriller album in its entirety back in 1983, when my older sister purchased a vinyl record copy of it.  The Thriller album was very big at the elementary school we were going to at the time, and it seemed like just about every kid I knew in the neighborhood liked the album and owned it.

Thriller opens with “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” which is a fun and upbeat number, and one I’ve enjoyed listening to since I was a kid.  However, I have to admit that I’ve never understood the “you’re a vegetable” bit that appears in the song.  Next on the album is the song “Baby Be Mine.”  Musically, you can definitely hear that the disco sound had an influence on the song.  Lyrically, it’s a love song that’s easy for the listener to understand and identify with.

The third song on Thriller is “The Girl Is Mine,” which is a duet between Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney from The Beatles and Wings.  The song tells the story of two men trying to win the affections of the same woman, and trying to convince the other that the girl is “theirs”; however, the song is done in a very light-hearted and fun manner.  I’ve liked this song ever since I first heard it back in the early 1980s.

The title song, “Thriller,” features a cameo by Vincent Price.  Even though the topic of the song is on the “dark” side, the song is a very light-hearted and fun piece.  Thanks to the accompanying music video, this song has become a classic.  This is followed by “Beat It,” the song that was my all-time favorite from the album when I was a kid; in fact, I had played it so much on my sister’s record back then that I managed to scratch the record at such a point that Michael kept singing the words “beat it” ad nauseum.  While it’s an upbeat song, it’s more “driving” than most of the material on Thriller; this is probably due in part to Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo.

The next song on the album is “Billie Jean,” and it tells the story of a woman claiming the speaker of the song is the father of her son.  I’ve always loved how this song sounds musically.  Admittedly, I didn’t truly understand what the words meant when I was younger, but that didn’t cause me to like the song any less.  This is another song on the album that had a music video that became a classic.

“Human Nature” is the next song, and it’s one of the few ballads on the album.  It’s also become a song that has been sampled by others in their music over the years, such as SWV’s “Right Here/Human Nature” and Jason Nevins’ “I’m In Heaven,” and the song has also been covered several times.  While Michael may be known more for his upbeat material, this ballad has become one of Michael’s classics.  I’ve always liked this song since the first time I heard it.

“P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” is another song that sounds influenced by the disco sound of the later 1970s, and it returns the album to an upbeat sound.  It’s a song I really liked at the time, especially the section of the song where the vocals are sped up and sound like they’re sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks.  Vocoder effects are also used during the song.  While this is a song I still like listening to, I don’t like it quite as much as I did when I was a kid.

Thriller closes with the ballad “The Lady in My Life.”  Personally, I never cared for this song back in the day because I thought it was rather boring, especially after following “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).”  I have to admit that I still think this song is rather boring.  When I listen to the Thriller album, I tend to listen to the first eight songs, and then shut off the CD at the end of “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).”

Even with “The Lady in My Life” being on it, Thriller is still an example of a perfect pop album.  In fact, I also think that Thriller is one of the most classic albums to come out during the early 1980s.

I wrote this review after listening to a copy of Thriller that I purchased.


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